In the shadow of the Hollywood sign, the Rockies keep playing out the same-old, tired script.
With Los Angeles starter Walker Buehler tying them up in knots and striking out 11 batters over six innings, the Rockies lost 5-1 Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
The most telling statistic of the night: Dodgers pitchers fanned 14; Rockies pitchers struck out one.
Colorado’s dropped their fifth straight game and lost for the 10th time in 12 games, setting them back to .500 at 13-13. That might not be so terrible had they not opened the season 11-3.
The Dodgers, who improved to 20-8 and appear to be streaking toward their eighth consecutive National League West crown, have defeated Colorado 21 times in the last 25 meetings. The Rockies have now lost 14 of 15 games in L.A. since July 1, 2018.
But both manager Bud Black and all-star shortstop Trevor Story disregarded the theory the Dodgers are in the Rockies’ heads.
“I don’t think so,” Black said. “They’re a good team. Every night we think we can play with them. I don’t think they’re in our heads at all.”
Added Story: “We feel like we can play and compete with anybody, but we haven’t shown that, especially against the Dodgers. But it’s not like we’re going out there and thinking, ‘Ah (crud) we’re going to lose.’ That’s never been the feeling the clubhouse or in the dugout. We always go out there with the intent and belief that we are going to win.”
Buehler set down the first 11 batters he faced until Charlie Blackmon ripped a two-out single up the middle in the fourth. Buehler entered the gamed with a pedestrian 5.21 ERA over his first four starts but he was excellent Friday night.
“I’m not sure whether it was the extra day’s rest he had or not, but the fastball was live tonight and it had that carry and velocity,” Black said. “From (my vantage point) it looked like it had location. His ball-to-strike ratio was great. His curveball was sharp. … He was on his game. That was premium stuff tonight.”
Colorado’s best chance against Buehler fizzled in the sixth when Nolan Arenado flew out to right with two outs and two on to end the mini-rally. Story’s RBI single to right scored Drew Butera, but Buehler fanned Charlie Blackmon on a wicked curveball. Up stepped Arenado, who worked the count to 3-2 and gave Buehler’s 96.7 mph fastball a ride, but Joc Pederson flagged it down at the base of the right-field wall.
Arenado, usually one of the best run producers in the game, is batting 2-for-28 (.071) with runners in scoring position and .067 (1-for-15) with two outs and runners in scoring position this season.
With Buehler dealing like an ace for the first five innings, the Rockies needed starter Jon Gray to step up his game. Lacking command of his fastball or his changeup, he was unable to do so.
“There are times when a pitcher can sort of bob and weave through an outing and hang in there through five or six innings, but it just didn’t happen tonight for Jon,” Black said.
Gray departed after 3 2/3 innings, his final pitch driven into the right-field corner for a two-run double by Corey Seager.
Gray, who’s ERA has soared to 6.23 after two subpar outings in his last three starts, was charged with four runs on seven hits. He walked two, hit a batter and, most disconcerting, did not strike out a batter.
Gray said his biggest problem was his inability to get ahead of hitters, something the Dodgers took advantage of early on.
“It’s very frustrating. I can’t describe how frustrating it is, especially with how important this game was,” Gray said.
The Dodgers jumped on Gray for a run in the first, combining a leadoff double by Pederson, a single by Justin Turner and an RBI double by Cody Bellinger.
L.A. hammered Gray in the decisive fourth beginning with A.J. Pollock’s leadoff double, followed by a single by Matt Beaty, an RBI single by Chris Taylor and, finally, Seager’s double.
“We’re obviously in a rut right now, and I saw (this game) as an opportunity,” Gray said. “Now it’s down the drain. So now we are looking forward to tomorrow and that’s the best thing you can do.”
Colorado’s highlight reel of the evening was provided by Story in the Dodgers’ eighth when he made a diving stop on Taylor’s hot shot near second base and flipped the ball to Ryan McMahon for the force out at second.
The Rockies send left-hander Kyle Freeland to the mound on Saturday night against Dodgers righty Dustin May.
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